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Friday October 22, 2004No. 8 VB Comes Back To Beat No. 17 Tennessee, 3-1

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.

Junior Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) finished with a match-high 24 kills, while senior Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) added a double-double with 14 kills and 10 blocks as No. 8 Florida defeated No. 17 Tennessee 3-1 (26-30, 34-32, 30-19, 30-21 before a crowd of 1,337 Friday evening at the Stokely Athletics Center.

The Gators (17-2 overall, 9-0 SEC) extended their NCAA record winning streaks to 139 straight regular season Southeastern Conference matches and 115 straight SEC matches overall. The win was also Florida's 65 thstraight away from home in the SEC and improved the Gators' record to 118-1 all-time against SEC East opponents. The Gators finished with 21.0 total blocks to just 6.0 for the Lady Vols (18-2, 8-1).

"I thought our two senior middle blockers were nothing short of outstanding," Florida coach Mary Wise said. "Sherri and Michelle knew there was a lot riding on this and they brought their briefcases to work with them. This is by far the best Tennessee team we've ever played. I'm not sure we would have won the match without our blocking and we blocked very well tonight."

Florida, facing a ranked team in the SEC for the first time in two years, also hit .293 to just .097 for Tennessee, while the Gators finished with 66 kills to 63 for the Lady Vols. Freshman Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) added a career-high tying 19 digs, while senior Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) added 13 kills and nine total blocks. Junior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) also topped the 20-dig plateau for the fifth time this season with 21.

The Gators improved to 21-3 all-time against ranked SEC teams. Collymore finished the match with more kills than any other player for the 16th time in 19 matches this season, while also posting her seventh 20+kill match of the year.

The Gators jumped out to an early lead in the first game before a late Tennessee run provided the Lady Vols with enough of a spark to claim a 30-26 win. Florida built a 6-3 advantage on kills from three different players coupled with errors from the Lady Vols. The two squads went back and forth with Florida leading until Tennessee moved on top 17-16. The Gators came back to take the lead at 20-19 on a Tennessee error before the Lady Vols took the lead for good at 21-20. Tennessee extended its lead to 26-21 and the Gators came within two at 28-26, but the Lady Vols were able to put the game away. Sherri Williams and Collymore led Florida with five kills apiece in the game, while Hampton and Engel each added six digs.

Florida fought off a pair of match points before eventually winning game two in thrilling fashion, 34-32. After falling down early, senior Taylor Williams (Gainesville, Fla.) fueled a 7-0 Florida run with her solid serving with Collymore posting a pair of kills in the stretch as the Gators went on top 14-12. The Lady Vols battled back, with four straight points of their own in taking a 17-16 lead. The teams see-sawed back and forth until Tennessee built a three-point lead at 26-23. Florida responded with four consecutive points behind the serving of freshman Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) to regain the lead at 27-26. After Tennessee knotted the score at 27-27, Florida tallied two points on Lady Vol errors to serve for match point at 29-27. Tennessee scored two straight to tie the game at 29-29. Florida made it 30-29 on a solo block from Chatman, but Tennessee rallied with two straight points to move ahead 31-30. Florida fended off a match point with a kill from Sherri Williams before the Lady Vols again posted a lead at 32-31. The Gators then scored three straight points on a kill from Sherri Williams, followed by a kill from Collymore and block assists from Sherri Williams and Collymore to seal the game. Collymore paced the Gators with five kills, while Engel chipped in with six digs.

Florida started strong and finished strong in the third game as the Gators easily got by the Lady Vols 30-19 after two close games to start the match. With the game tied at 9-9, Florida scored four of the next six points in taking a 14-10 lead. After a point from the Lady Vols, the Gators reeled off three straight to move ahead 17-14. Tennessee eventually narrowed the gap to three at 18-15, but that was the closest the Lady Vols got the rest of the way. Florida scored four consecutive points to go ahead by seven at 22-15. After Tennessee came within five at 24-19, Florida closed out the game with six straight points on the serve of Hampton with Collymore providing four kills in the stretch. Collymore led the way with seven kills in the game, while Engel added seven digs with senior Lauren Moscovic (Stockton, Calif.) chipping in six. Sherri Williams also added four block assists for the Gators.

The final game proved a challenge before Florida scored 10 of the final 11 points to end a hard fought match. The two teams battled back and forth in the early stages with Tennessee mounting an 11-6 lead before the Gators slowly chipped away, eventually tying the game at 15-15 on a solo block from Chatman. The Gators eventually pulled ahead on a kill from sophomore Stefanie Douglas (Temple, Texas) at 20-19. After the Lady Vols tied things at 20-20, Florida notched 10 of the last 11 points behind the serving of Hampton and Taylor Williams. Including in the stretch were three team blocks and a pair of kills from Collymore, who again led Florida with seven kills as the Gators hit a blistering .432 in the game. Chatman also added five kills and four blocks, while Hampton posted six digs.

Florida returns to action Sunday, Oct. 24 when the Gators travel to Columbia to face South Carolina. The match is slated for a 1:30 p.m. start and can be heard live on both WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com.

 

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